US capitalism is at a turning point. Every day brings more horrifying news about the disastrous occupation of Iraq. Over a thousand American soldiers have died and thousands have been maimed while the Iraqi casualties number in the tens of thousands, the vast majority of them civilians.

It should be clear to everyone by now that not only are there no “weapons of mass destruction” in Iraq but that this war was never about WMDs. The invasion was launched in order to seize control of a key part of the world’s oil reserves and in order to restore the “prestige” of US imperialism in the wake of 9/11.

Despite what Bush and Kerry may promise on the campaign trail, there is no end in sight in Iraq nor is there way for the US to “win” this war. The history of the 20th century proves that when the masses of people resist a colonial occupation of their country, the occupiers will sooner or later be defeated. This is what we are witnessing today in Iraq. The only question is when and under what circumstances the US will be forced to withdraw.

Such a defeat for US imperialism will have enormous political repercussions in a deeply polarized US society. Already we have seen the development of a mass antiwar, and the anti-corporate movement. What the ruling class really fears is that the working class will begin to take the lead in this movement.

The looming defeat in Iraq comes at a time of renewed crisis in the US and world economy. Ordinary Americans can see the signs everyday in the sharp rise in the price of gas, as well as skyrocketing healthcare and education costs. Despite two years of alleged recovery, George Bush is the first president to preside over a net loss of 1.6 million jobs since Herbert Hoover at the start of the Great Depression. What jobs are being created are low paid and have minimal benefits. Millions are facing an old age without a living pension.

Meanwhile, we are offered the “choice” of two corporate-sponsored candidates in the forthcoming presidential election. Despite the very understandable desire of tens of millions of people to get rid of the reactionary Bush regime, there is also deep dissatisfaction with the “alternative”. In truth the only candidate who is speaking against the con game of the two corporate parties is Ralph Nader who is running a populist, anti-war, protest campaign.

The labor movement in the United States is also at a turning point. Trade union membership in the private sector is at an historic low and our wages, benefits and working conditions are under attack as never before. This is to say nothing of the full-scale assault on our civil liberties. But what leadership are we getting from the AFL-CIO tops? Their “strategy” seems to boil down to this: vote for Kerry and hope for the best.

Millions of workers across this country know that the time has come for a serious fight to defend what we and previous generations have fought to gain. This pamphlet by Socialist Alternative is a contribution to the debate that must occur in the labor movement and within the broader working class about how we can defeat the bosses’ offensive and prepare the way for a movement to build a society without war, poverty, racism, discrimination and environmental destruction.

October 2004